No one denies that the U.S. is currently in the grip of a devastating opioid epidemic fueled by massive amounts of heroin flowing easily into the country from Afghanistan and millions of people addicted to prescription pain killers. The CDC reports that opioid drugs and medications killed nearly 30,000 people in 2014 — more deaths than any other year on record. In addition, 50 percent of opioid overdose deaths involved opioids prescribed by qualified physicians.
According to the CDC, the “amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1999” and deaths from hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone and other prescription opioids have quadrupled since that same year. Between 2000 and 2014, nearly 500,000 people died from overdosing on illegal or prescription drugs. Today, it’s estimated that close to 100 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose.
Accidental overdose deaths have increased significantly in certain states per CDC data. Percentage changes between 2013 and 2014 are especially alarming in:
- Alabama — up 20 percent
- Maine — up 27 percent
- Ohio — up 19 percent
- New Mexico — up 20 percent
- New Hampshire — up 73 percent
- Maryland — up 20 percent
- Virginia — up 14 percent
Deaths from cocaine overdose also increased by 42 percent between 2001 and 2014 (National Institute on Drug Abuse), along with deaths from benzodiazepine overdoses. While anti-anxiety benzodiazepines such as Valium or Xanax are not considered opioids, they are still powerfully addictive prescription medications often abused with alcohol, which increases the risk of overdose and death for the user.
Why Have Overdose Death Statistics Increased Over the Past Decade?
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says that Mexican crime organizations represent the highest drug threats to the United States. Not only do Mexican drug cartels supply most of the heroin and cocaine to the U.S., but they also flood the streets with most of the marijuana and methamphetamine bought by small-time dealers and users. Since 2010, heroin seizures have doubled, from 2,800 kilograms per seizure to a little over 5,000 kilograms per seizure.
Making heroin even more lethal is a synthetic opioid called Fentanyl, which is sometimes added to heroin before it hits the streets. Ten times more addictive and dangerous than heroin, Fentanyl was responsible for an estimated 700 overdose deaths in the U.S. between 2013 and 2015.
Although the number of heroin users in the U.S. is smaller than the number of meth and marijuana users, it is rapidly increasing in size at rates faster than all other abused substances. In 2007, 161,000 people admitted to using heroin regularly. Just seven years later, 435,000 people report using heroin in the U.S. (according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
Don’t let yourself or someone you know become part of this year’s overdose death statistics. Contact 12 Keys Rehab today to find out how we can help you or a loved one overcome a drug or alcohol addiction.